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Boeing to Admit Fraud in Effort to Avoid Trial

 July 9, 2024

Aircraft manufacturing giant Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to problems with its 737 Max aircraft, thereby avoiding a criminal trial, and the arrangement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) will see the company pay substantial fines as part of a plea deal.

Boeing will plead guilty to fraud charges regarding fatal 737 Max crashes, resulting in $487.2 million in fines after credits for previous payments made, as National Review reports.

The company's plea agreement is linked to its 737 Max aircraft's faulty safety features, which led to two tragic incidents. The first crash took place in 2018 when Lion Air Flight 610 went down.

Tragically, another crash followed in 2019 involving Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. These crashes resulted in the deaths of 346 people.

DOJ Accuses Boeing of Concealment

The DOJ has accused Boeing of "knowingly and willfully" plotting to defraud regulators. Boeing allegedly hid crucial information about the aircraft's software systems, which was instrumental in the two fatal crashes.

To resolve these charges, Boeing agreed to a financial penalty of up to $487.2 million. However, after accounting for fines already paid, the net amount Boeing will remit stands at $243.6 million.

Safety Feature Failures Lead to Crashes

The charges stem from Boeing's alleged concealment of issues with the 737 Max's safety features. The Lion Air Flight 610 crash in 2018 was the first in a sequence of disasters, which was tragically followed by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash in 2019. Both incidents unveiled significant flaws in the aircraft's software systems, leading to the tragic loss of 346 lives.

In response to these events, the DOJ initially deferred charging Boeing with conspiracy in 2021. This deferral came on the condition that Boeing enhances its oversight of its manufacturing processes and takes significant steps toward compliance.

2024 Development Prompts Resumed Investigation

However, in January 2024, an in-flight structural failure on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-9 Max led to renewed scrutiny. This prompted the DOJ to resume its investigations into Boeing's practices.

In a statement, Boeing acknowledged reaching an agreement in principle with the DOJ. "We can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle on terms of a resolution with the Justice Department," Boeing stated, indicating that specific terms were still subject to final approval.

Victims' Families Plan Plea Deal Objection

Despite this agreement, law firms representing the families of those who perished in the accidents intend to challenge the plea deal. They plan to ask the judge overseeing the case to reject the deal in its current form, contending that it does not sufficiently hold Boeing accountable.

The final agreement, set to be concluded and approved by July 19, 2024, encompasses stringent measures for Boeing. Among these measures, Boeing commits to spending an additional $455 million on compliance and safety programs. An independent monitor will oversee Boeing's safety procedures for the next three years.

Federal Contracts Could Be at Risk

With the federal government representing Boeing's largest customer and providing 37% of its revenue in 2023, a criminal conviction could severely impact Boeing’s ability to secure future federal contracts. The plea deal appears designed to mitigate this significant risk.

This case underscores the gravity of Boeing's alleged misconduct. The deferred prosecution agreement from 2021, the renewed DOJ investigation following the January 2024 incident, and the $243.6 million fine illustrate the far-reaching consequences of Boeing's actions.


Boeing's agreement to plead guilty aims to resolve criminal fraud charges related to the deadly crashes of its 737 Max aircraft.

The company will avoid a criminal trial by paying substantial fines and committing to rigorous compliance measures.

The DOJ's accusations of Boeing hiding vital information and the tragic loss of 346 lives underscore the serious nature of the case.

Boeing and the DOJ must finalize their agreement by July 19, 2024, subject to judicial approval. This deal, while ensuring oversight and financial penalties, faces opposition from the victims' families seeking further accountability.